In a press briefing, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development Joëlle Welfring highlighted recent achievements including new laws and a surge in wildlife sightings, but faced criticism from Volt on energy policies.
Welfring delivered a presentation on the work that her department has completed over the course of the current legislative period.
Three new laws concerned with forests, environment protection, and drinking water were passed in 2022. Additionally, a draft law on so-called 'commodo' procedures, which concern operating permits for classified establishments, was launched. Steps to request aids have been simplified and digitalised, summarised the Minister.
Welfring concluded that over the past five years, she and her predecessor, former Minister Carole Dieschbourg, created the necessary conditions for what she described as the ecological, energetic, and social transition. She also expressed her belief that while some ambitious goals have been achieved, expectations might have to be lowered in other domains.
According to Welfring, the combined surface of protected areas in the Grand Duchy has tripled since 2013. Here it is important to cooperate with businesses, municipalities, and residents, she noted. Thanks to advancements made as a result of the climate and nature pacts, it has become clear that progress can be made: Welfring referred to the fact that there are now about 80 sites in the country with wild beavers, up from 39 in 2019. Similarly, the growing regularity of wolf sightings was portrayed as an achievement.
Welfring lamented that the new soil protection act, designed to help avoid different types of pollution, is not yet ready.
At the press event, the Greens politician also delved into stats and figures, conveying that the government has received 30,000 demands through the 'Klimabonus' subsidy programme since 1 January this year. Since 2019, 75,000 requests for electric bicycle subsidies and 18,000 for electric car subsidies have been received. The Ministry has granted a total of €405 million in subsidies since 2013.
Reaction from Volt
In conversation with RTL, Volt vice president Philippe Schannes reacted to the presentation given by the Environment Minister. He underlined the crucial importance of protecting nature and biodiversity and argued that the Greens have failed to do enough in those areas.
According to Schannes, the environment and energy ministries failed to cooperate. He elaborated that the production and consumption of energy represent the biggest issue on the climate protection front, which is why closer cooperation between both entities is needed.